Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn say they would take Syrian refugees into their homes

The Labour leadership candidates made the pledge after the Finnish Prime Minister offered asylum seekers the use of his former family home

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Indy Politics

Labour leadership candidates Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn have said they would invite Syrian refugees to stay in their homes.

Finland’s Prime Minister offered up his family’s spare house earlier on Saturday, saying refugees would be welcome to move in on 1 January.

“We should all take a look in the mirror and ask how we can help,” Juha Sipila told national broadcaster YLE.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila has offered his family's country home, which they recently moved out of, to refugees


When Channel 4 News asked Mr Burnham and Mr Corbyn would make the same gesture, they said they would.

But when the same question was put to the offices of David Cameron and Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, they reportedly declined to comment.

Schemes for members of the public to personally house refugees have been gaining support in Germany and Iceland, with people calling for the idea to be extended to the UK.

A bitter row erupted last week when Mr Burnham was accused of twisting the refugee crisis to his advantage by undermining his rival Yvette Cooper's efforts to build a national consensus,  squabbling over who was the first candidate to demand a change of Government policy.

The refugee crisis became a point of contention in the Labour leadership contest this week


A source from a rival camp accused him of sending an “unedifying” and divisive message to the public after he claimed on Sky News that he “called the day before [Ms Cooper] for Britain to take our fair share”.

Mr Burnham, the former Health Secretary, took to Twitter defend himself, writing: “I've been saying all summer that the government should be doing more, I've been saying that through the hustings.”

Britain has been under increasing pressure to expand its response to the crisis this week after photos of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian child who drowned trying to reach Europe with his family, reignited public anger about the death of thousands of refugees.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Corbyn said the tragedy had not changed his own position on the crisis, saying a global response was “vital” but that wealthier countries like the UK had a responsibility to shelter more people.


In a statement, the Islington North MP said: "It is our duty as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, but also as human beings, to offer a place of safety, to play a role internationally to share our responsibilities, and to work to end the conflict.”

The Prime Minister has announced that Britain will take in “thousands more” refugees from Syria but not specified an exact figure.

Germany is currently expecting the highest number of asylum seekers of any European country, predicting that 800,000 will arrive this year, and Finland's government is expecting 30,000.

More than 350,000 refugees and migrants have reached the borders of the Europe Union in the last eight months.

Additional reporting by PA